B2B marketing leaders are striving to position their companies as “thought leaders.” And why not? If you do not have a truly disruptive technology, product, service or idea (in which case you actually are a thought leader) being seen as a thought leader gives your company strategic differentiation. It helps you stand-out in the cacophony of messages that your customers must sift through to find you. Given the complexities that B2B buyers face when making decisions for sophisticated solutions, your thought leadership might just be the most important part of your marketing program. It becomes part of your brand value. It converts you from a commodity supplier into a trusted advisor who can lead the customer to achievement of their vision.
Your thought leadership only matters if people read it, see it, or hear it.
Now here is some more “earned media” for Cisco. As usual, full disclosure rules require me (Peter O’Neill here) to note that Cisco invited me to its latest Partner Velocity conference in Cannes last week. As they told, the agenda was truly in my sweet zone of research: the challenges of B2B marketing including channel marketing. This annual worldwide conference was held in Las Vegas last year but the last one I had attended was the previous European event two years ago in Barcelona. As I wrote then, I continue to be truly excited by what I saw and heard at the event.
Cisco is the ONLY tech vendor that holds an event of this strength exclusively for marketers – the marketers who work for its business partners. I’ve been on vendor/partner marketing advisory councils but this one was a marketing training event and which IT vendor besides Cisco thinks it is good enough at its own marketing to be able to hold such an event for others? I had some really great conversations with marketers across the globe – I collected business cards from South Africa, Nigeria, Dubai, Lithuania, plus across Europe and North America. It is interesting to hear that marketing has similar issues (getting enough executive support, proving its value, lack of resources) all over the world.
Two things I noted especially at this year’s event:
This week, Colt launched its Ceano cloud services for SMBs with a particular focus on the reseller channel that actually services these businesses. As this announcement combines the business strategy of a telco provider with an innovative channel strategy, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill have again combined (as in their previous blog on Cisco) to discuss their impressions:
Peter O’Neill here and welcome to another “Letter from Germany” post where I highlight something important for you about B2B marketing in Germany. Last week I attended the first Lead Management Summit in Munich, an event organized by the business media publisher Vogel Business Media together with DemandGen AG, the European arm of that worldwide consulting group. More than 150 attendees were treated to an agenda jam-packed full of user experience stories enriched by each speaker with their own set of useful anecdotes. Two highlights for me were:
Thomas Dueker, AEB GmbH(supply chain logistics software vendor). In discussing how he optimized their lead management process, Thomas also said he didn’t like to use the word “lead” too much. He remarked that he sees it as “too American, too much about selling, too quickly.” Remember my note in a previous blog about differing expectations in European marketers? His system identifies “marketable and relevant contacts” and feeds them “quality content with minimum sales messaging.”
I’ve been having a lot of conversations, recently, about sales and marketing alignment. (Well, honestly, who working in B2B marketing hasn’t?) In Forrester’s most recent Marketing Organization and Investment Survey, we asked the respondents (522 B2B marketing execs from companies with more than 100 employees) about the quality of collaboration between sales and marketing. Fifty-seven percent of marketing execs reported weak or mixed collaboration with sales when "defining lead qualification criteria" and "administering leads and lead pipelines." Those numbers underscore the much-storied rift between marketing and our colleagues in sales.
For a while I have been saying that a managed lead-to-revenue process will catalyze a new collaborative relationship between sales and marketing. It makes sense to the point of being incandescently obvious; calibrating sales and marketing around a shared revenue goal is the basis for true alignment. But, until there is proof, it’s a hypothesis. And, now there’s proof.
In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution (a proxy for a more managed process) reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.
I (writes Peter O'Neill) have just published the Organization report for our lead-to-revenue playbook. My colleague Lori Wizdo is writing most of the 12 reports that form this Forrester playbook, but I get to write a few and we are both excited that Laura Ramos, now back at Forrester, will contribute the Business Case report.
In my report, “The Skills And Structures For L2R Success,” I have avoided suggesting a standard org chart for L2R process management because our client inquiries on this topic show that one size definitely does not fit all. Instead, I have focused on how to organize a team to design and manage a buyer-centric L2RM process. And I discuss the many new job titles, roles, and responsibilities that are now appearing in marketing organizations as more and more enterprises adopt an L2R strategy. I also consider the important interfaces to many other departments that are needed to ensure L2RM success.
I recently stumbled upon a very old quote from Peter Drucker, which completely nonplussed this lifetime marketer. Mr. Drucker observed (in his 1973 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practice) that the fundamental purpose of a business enterprise is to create a customer. And because of that, he said, “The business enterprise has two - and only these two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”
Today’s B2B marketing execs know that Drucker’s statement is a fragile hypothesis that gets tested at least every budget cycle and often every quarter. You know that if you are not able to quantify the business impact of the budget dollars spent on advertising, trade shows, and promotion, your CFO looks at marketing as a cost center: one of the first places to cut when the business indicators dip, and one of the last to be renewed when things turn around.
Revenue is the lingua franca of the modern enterprise
That’s why demonstrating the revenue return on marketing investment (ROMI) is the No. 1 issue for B2B marketing executives. In Forrester’s most recent B2B Marketing Organizations And Investments Survey, when we asked marketing execs to identify the most important metrics for their marketing organization, 56% identified a revenue-related metric — compared with 44% for customer satisfaction and 40% for brand awareness.
“Letter From Germany” Feb. 2013 – Marketing Automation Is Hot In Europe This Year
Peter O'Neill here with the latest edition of my (somewhat) regular blog in which I highlight important information for you about B2B marketing in Germany. This time, I have exclusive details for the German market on marketing automation; the data is taken from the survey used in my upcoming report entitled “European B2B Marketers Will Invest In Automation In 2013.” The report will have two pieces of research for Forrester clients:
1. Data from our Q4 2012 US And Europe B2B Marketing Tactics And Benchmarks Online Survey.
2. An update to our list of innovative marketing automation vendors that have headquarters in Europe.
Many of the leaders at international marketing automation vendors we speak to have been wary of seriously setting up in Europe, as they believe firms in that region are late adopters of marketing automation. But we have important news for them: It’s now high time to show more presence in Europe! Our survey shows that the rate of investment is actually higher in Europe than in the US for nine of the 10 categories of marketing automation about which we asked. In the graph below, we show the aggregate of those planning to implement the technology or expand/upgrade their system.
At the Cisco Live EMEAR 2013 event in London this week, Cisco brought a new down-to-earth dynamism to the table. The vision how Cisco is intending to empower its clients in an evermore connected world is becoming clearer. In this blog, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill discuss their take-home messages from the event:
Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) is empowering its high-end channel partners.
Dan.HCS, Cisco’s hosted collaboration suite, allows carriers to offer cloud-based as-a-service solutions, comprising unified communications, telepresence, and contact center, as well as a range of communication features under the Jabber brand. In EMEAR, BT, Telefonica, and Vodafone are already selling HCS, primarily aiming it at their multinational corporation (MNC) customers. They've hinted at scaling down HCS in the future but it remains to be seen whether HCS is the right solution for smaller carriers and SMBs.
Peter.They also need to think about being more attentive to the needs of midmarket system integrators and MSPs. That means they must provide different price configurations that are attractive to SMBs. Positioning themselves only to the national telcos is quite restrictive and doesn’t match the increasing demand we are seeing for these solution across the market. But of course, if they want to compete in the SMB segment, they’ll compete with Google and Microsoft and their pricing strategies. The best way to run two pricing strategies is to use two brands.
Effective content marketing is now critical to B2B marketers’ success because useful content accelerates potential buyers along their journey, writes Peter O'Neill. This raises a serious content challenge for B2B marketers. Their content should be available and compelling across all touchpoints in the customer life cycle — from the awareness phase (from the vendor’s point of view) through to the phase that Forrester calls customer retention and expansion.
Are B2B marketers rising to this challenge? Forrester’s Q4 2012 US And Europe B2B Marketing Tactics And Benchmarks Online Survey provides us with an answer. As we make clear in this report, there is significant room for improvement. Here are some significant shortcomings that we highlighted in the responses from 328 B2B marketers:
B2B marketing content works for lead nurturing but nothing else. When asked about the effectiveness of content marketing among 16 separate marketing tactics, the rankings range from No. 15 in the awareness phase to No. 5 as a tactic for lead origination; it’s in third place for lead nurturing but drops back to No. 6 in the customer retention and expansion phase.
B2B marketers create most of their content internally. The majority of the content produced is created internally either by the marketing department (44%) or by other employees (14%). Organizations that create their own content with only internal staff tend to remain fixated on their product and solution.